Dating the volcanic eruption at thera
What fell out of that was that the old calibration curve wasn't precisely correct during this time frame." The paper, "Annual radiocarbon record indicates sixteenth century BC date for the Thera eruption," by Pearson and her colleagues is scheduled to publish online Aug. Her other UA co-authors are Peter Brewer, Timothy Jull, Todd Lange and Matthew Salzer.
Other co-authors are David Brown of Queen's University in Belfast, UK, and Timothy Heaton of University of Sheffield, UK.
"Our data indicate that radiocarbon dating can overlap with various lines of archeological evidence for the eruption date." The current radiocarbon calibration curve that was developed over the past 50 years using tree rings extends 14,000 years into the past.
At that time, the scientists needed to use chunks of wood that combined 10 to 20 years of a tree's annual rings to have enough wood to test for radiocarbon.
The legend of Atlantis and the story of the Biblical plagues and subsequent exodus from Egypt have also been connected to the epic catastrophe.
Dwarfed the atomic bomb Historians and archaeologists have had trouble deciding on the year Thera erupted, with dates ranging anywhere from 1645 BC to 1500 BC.
New analyses that use tree rings could settle the long-standing debate about when the volcano Thera erupted by resolving discrepancies between archeological and radiocarbon methods of dating the eruption, according to new University of Arizona-led research.
"The volcano erupts and represents one short moment in time," she said.
Work conducted at the UA Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory contributed substantially to the radiocarbon calibration curve currently in use worldwide.
Now radiocarbon testing requires just slivers of wood, so Pearson and her colleagues could test the annual growth rings of trees from 1500 back to 1700 BC—before, during and after the time Thera was thought to have erupted.
Studies of ash deposits on the ocean floor have revealed, however, that when the volcano did blow, it did so with a force dwarfing anything humans had ever seen or have seen since.
There are no first-person accounts of what happened that day, but scientists can compare it to the detailed records available from the famous eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia, in 1883.